crime

“I’m going to make sure you get home safe,” she said he told her. 

But within minutes, she told police, he slammed her to the ground, groped her and choked her so hard she lost consciousness.

The man was arrested after he was accused of the assault that occurred after midnight Aug. 1 on the 1300 block of South Main Street, Gainesville Police said.

Edward Spaulding, 61, is accused of placing the woman in a chokehold, dragging her to a secluded area and raping her, according to an arrest report. DNA evidence and surveillance footage from nearby businesses aided police in finding evidence for his arrest.

The woman told police she thought he was going to kill her.

Spaulding remains in the Alachua County Jail as of Tuesday evening on a $1 million bond on a charge of sexual assault and two counts of failing to register as a sex offender, according to county records.

The woman said Spaulding, whom she described as a “nice, old man,” walked up to her the night of the incident, according to the report. As he walked her home, he placed his arm around her as he smoked what she said appeared to be cocaine out of a glass pipe.

This made her uneasy, but she feared upsetting Spaulding, according to the arrest report. She pulled away when he tried placing his arm around her again. Then, he grabbed her in a headlock and pulled her into the bushes in front of an unnamed business.

He lifted her skirt and raped her while choking her, according to the arrest report. At one point, she said he loosened his grip enough for her to catch a breath.

She told him that she loved him to make him stop being so violent, police said. But he slapped her and told her, “Shut up, b----.” She told police he then choked her with both hands until she passed out.

When she woke, he was gone, and she went to get help, according to the arrest report.

On Monday, Spaulding told police he didn’t recall the night but agreed he was the person found in the surveillance footage, according to the arrest report. He said he didn’t engage with her sexually in any way.

Authorities said Spaulding could not explain why it took him more than 30 minutes to turn around and walk back toward his home on the footage if all he did was tell the girl “goodbye,” according to the arrest report.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24 hours at 1-800-656-4673. 

Dana Cassidy is an 19-year-old UF journalism sophomore and crime reporter at The Independent Florida Alligator. Outside of writing she loves fitness, film analysis, Mad Men, bad reality TV and excessive amounts of coffee.